Free «Ramifications of Supreme Court Decisions» Essay Sample

The Supreme Court case chosen is “immigration and naturalization service V. Chadha” of 1983. This case involved a minor immigration matter where the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the use of the legislative veto (Anderson, 2011). In this case Jagdish Rai Chadha was an alien who had been legally admitted to the United States on a nonimmigrant student visa. After his visa expired he was ordered to show why he should not be deported. Hastedt (2004) says that the immigration judge who heard his case permitted Chadha to stay. The Immigration and Naturalization Act requires that all such decisions be reported to Congress. The house passed a resolution vetoing the judge’s decision and setting in motion his deportation but Chadha appealed (Hastedt, 2004).

The United States Supreme Court invalidated the legislative veto that had enabled the Congress, in negotiation with the executive branch, to veto certain executive actions (Powell, 2009). The court ruled that such agreements violated the doctrine of separation of powers. Powell (2009) says that it particularly determined that the house of Congress did not have the constitutional power to veto immigration and naturalization service (INS) decision to allow a foreign student to remain in the United States after Chadha’s visa had expired. Hastedt (2004) says that Justices White and Behnquist dissented, asserting that the Supreme Court would have been better served if it had decided the case on narrower grounds and not called into question the constitutionality of congressional review statutes in other prices of legislation. Neither the president nor the Congress has been willing to openly challenge one another over the constitutionality of the legislative veto following the Chadha decision (Hastedt, 2004).

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Both the president and the Congress feared the uncertain consequences of challenging the court decision and preferred to operate in a gray area where political losses can be minimized. Hastedt (2004) indicated that for congress the risk associated with this case was the direct conflict that would permanently rob it of an important political lever used to constrain the president and gather information from the executive branch. On the other hand, for the president, the danger was that a successful challenge of the legality of the legislative veto may force Congress into passing legislation that truly limits the president’s freedom of maneuver in foreign policy (Rosenbloom, Kravchuk & Clerkin, 2009).

The Congress invented the legislative veto as a means of dealing with the increasing complexity of public legislation (Hastedt, 2004). This is because the Congress felt that it could no longer write into legislation detailed administrative procedures and rules to cover all contingences. It should be noted that by the time Chadha experienced a legislative veto, both the executive branch and many activist public interest groups had come to oppose the legislative veto (Rosenbloom, Kravchuk & Clerkin, 2009).

The case was decided on 23 June 1983 by the vote of 7-2 in the Supreme Court (Schultz, 2009). He further says that Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote the Courts opinion in which he held that the Constitution required that a bicameral Congress must have presented to the president legislation for enactment that followed the steps specified by the constitution. In addition once the case reached the Supreme Court, a majority of the justices held that the legislative veto in the earlier legislation was invalid for two important constitutional reasons (McCormick, 2009).

Firstly, it violated the presentment clause of the constitution meaning that every bill which passes the House of Representatives and the Senate, before it becomes a law should be presented to the President of the United States for his consideration. Anderson (2011) indicated that in Chadha’s case such a presentment did not occur, because the House acted unilaterally to rescind the action of the executive branch. Secondly it violated the principle of bicameralism implying that all legislation must be passed by majorities in both the House and the Senate hence the legislative veto could not stand (McCormick, 2009).

In conclusion, it should be noted that although Chadha decision dealt only with the one house legislative veto, the Supreme Court expanded its decision about two weeks later by declaring the two house veto unconstitutional as well (McCormick, 2009). Since the legislative veto was a prominent device used by Congress in the 1970s and early 1980s to rein in executive power in foreign affairs and policy, Chadha’s case has had considerable impact on the extent of congressional resurgence against executive power.


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